The Senate passed a bill on Monday that would bar Iran’s appointed United Nations ambassador from entering the United States. The bill was brought about by the appointment of Hamid Aboutalebi as Iran’s representative, since Aboutalebi has admitted to being a member of the organization which orchestrated the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said last week that the Obama administration had raised serious concerns over Aboutalebi. The Senate bill passed unanimously and was sponsored by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, with high-profile support from New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer as well. Bipartisan support came after the bill was changed to require that anyone barred from the country first had to be recognized by the State Department as having participated in terrorist activities. Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn is working on getting a similar bill passed in the House of Representatives.
Although the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan is considered international territory, the United States handles diplomatic visas for ambassadors. According to The Washington Post, “the United States generally admits the chosen representatives of U.N. members, with limited exceptions.”
On certain occasions, the State Department has limited the movements of diplomats. A month ago, Syria’s ambassador was ordered to keep within a 25-mile radius of Columbus Circle, similar to restrictions placed on Iranian and North Korean envoys.